Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The State of Indian State

This is a very interesting analysis about the functions of Indian State in the modern era. You can agree or disagree, everyone of us are looking at The State with some special attention musing that IT CAN DO EVERYTHING FOR US! 

The following few para are from a article by Dr Mehta. There is also a interesting lecture titled The Burden of Democracy – India After 65 Years by him. The video is here.

"The architecture of the Indian state is now being seriously contested. Indian practices of exercising power were founded on six principles that are no longer tenable."
  • " The first principle was vertical accountability. To be held accountable meant being held accountable by your superiors, not by citizens or other parts of the system. So long as the powers that be did not ask questions, did not prosecute or pursue you, no one else did. This is slowly beginning to change. There are potentially a lot more sites for horizontal accountability within the state. But most importantly, there is a clamour to be held accountable to citizens, not just in some diffuse way through elections, but in terms of the services the state provides."
  • " The second principle was relative secrecy. The state had a great informational advantage over citizens in two senses. The state’s own inner workings were relatively secret. And the state was a primary source of information about our well-being. Both those propositions are no longer true. It would be foolish for any state to now assume that its legitimacy can rest on keeping secrets. But perhaps more importantly, citizens craft a sense of well-being through information outside of the state. A couple of decades ago, you may not have known your water or air was poisoned because the state did not tell you."
  • "The third principle of state power was wide discretion. To a degree, all states require discretionary power. But they need to justify its use through an exercise of public reason, where those reasons take into account all stakeholders. In every major decision the government has been involved in, whether allocating spectrum or land, siting SEZs or designing water schemes, it has failed to engage in public reason. It assumed it could get away with shoddy justifications for its actions." 
  • "The fourth principle of the state was relative centralisation. Despite the fact that you have so many regional parties that share power, India remains one of the most administratively centralised states in the world. The degree of centralisation, where the Planning Commission micromanages every small rule associated with a centrally sponsored scheme with tragically perverse effects, is untenable in a society as vibrant and complex as India. Local bodies, whether urban or rural, are still not seen as instruments of self-government, as institutions that will resolve local conflicts."

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Some links

I Agree with Mr Prakash Ambedkar!

Contrary to the views expressed by others I wholeheartedly agree with B R Ambedkar's grand son Mr Prakash Ambedkar's views. The following are his views on the inclusion of caste column in the school admission etc.

  • “Caste bias is ingrained in minds the day a child enters school. The child at an early age is made to believe he/she has a separate identity. When parents seek admission to schools for children, they have to fill the form which has a column on caste.”
  • “The caste column labels the child as a Scheduled Caste, Schedule Tribe, other Backward Caste (OBC) or Brahmin. The school itself is the stage for caste bias that continues as one enters college and then the workplace.”
  • “I am not against social and economic welfare of Dalits and the poor. On the contrary, all of us should push for more affirmative action to strength the system to address concerns of Dalits in education, and jobs.”

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Of that GM Food

"Indian youngsters have no idea how terrible and humiliating were the droughts of 1965-66 that made India entirely dependent on US food aid to stem starvation. Fortunately, the Green Revolution then replaced organic with high-yield farming, and converted India from a starvation area to a food exporter. Borlaug said organic farming could meet the demand of elites for superior, costly food. But it could not meet mass needs." More here.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

More on Vivekananda @150

Vivekananda @150

‘Difference is the first sign of thought… I pray they multiply until at last we have as many sects as human beings…’

I read for the first time the below 1897 interview of Vivekananda: A bit from it.

But if the present degraded condition is due to their past Karma, Swamiji, how do you propose to help them?

Karma is the eternal assertion of human freedom. If we can bring ourselves down by our Karma, surely it is in our power to raise ourselves by it. The masses, besides, have not brought themselves down altogether by their own Karma. So we should give them better environments to work in. I do not propose any levelling of castes. Caste is a very good thing. Caste is the plan we want to follow. What caste really is, not one in a million understands. There is no country in the world without caste. In India, from caste we reach to the point where there is no caste. Caste is based throughout on that principle. The plan in India is to make everybody Brahmana, the Brahmana being the ideal of humanity. If you read the history of India you will find that attempts have always been made to raise the lower classes. Many are the classes that have been raised. Many more will follow till the whole will become Brahmana. That is the plan. We have only to raise them without bringing down anybody. And this has mostly to be done by the Brahmanas themselves...

What are your views, Swamiji, in regard to the relation of caste to rituals?

Caste is continually changing, rituals are continually changing — so are forms. It is the substance, the principle, that does not change. It is in the Vedas that we have to study our religion. With the exception of the Vedas, every book must change. The authority of the Vedas is for all time to come; the authority of every one of our other books is for the time being.

For instance, one Smriti is powerful for one age, another for another age. Great prophets are always coming and pointing the way to work. Some prophets worked for the lower classes, others like Madhava gave to women the right to study the Vedas. Caste should not go, but should only be readjusted occasionally. Within the old structure is to be found life enough for the building of two hundred thousand new ones. It is sheer nonsense to desire the abolition of caste. The new method is evolution of the old.

Instead of frittering away our energies on ideal reforms, which will never become practical, we had better go to the root of the evil and make a legislative body, that is to say, educate our people, so that they may be able to solve their own problems. Until that is done, all these ideal reforms will remain ideals only.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Professor James M. Buchanan, no more

The most liked line from his work is this: “My task has been to ‘uneducate’ the economists.”

"James M. Buchanan, who died Wednesday at age 93, was one of history's greatest economists. Though he won the Nobel Prize in 1986, Jim at heart was always a farm boy from Tennessee—an old-fashioned, hardworking American who disdained unearned privileges as well as deeply distrusting the promises of politicians and the passions of collectives." More here

"As Buchanan put it in “Liberty, Market and the State” (1986), politics is “a process within which individuals, with separate and potentially differing interests and values, interact for the purpose of securing individually valued benefits of cooperative effort.” More here.

  • "Buchanan believed that government is necessary to produce public goods (mainly security, but a few others too), hence politics as exchange. The problem in this sort of exchange is that the majority (or perhaps a minority, like bureaucrats) will be tempted to exploit the rest of the population. Rational individuals will want to protect themselves against this danger with a unanimous, if only implicit, social contract that constitutionally limits what the state can do. We must, as the subtitle of The Limits of Liberty indicates, stand “between anarchy and Leviathan.”

Friday, January 4, 2013

Crack-up GOLD

Protect our gold from the beast!!

"Those who control the economy describe gold as a “dead investment”, oppose its import, and talk of putting the “gold to work”.

Significantly, the proposals of Raghuram Rajan, the government’s chief economic adviser, favor foreign bankers who seek to hoard gold to protect themselves from a major economic collapse. Raghuram Rajan was formerly with the International Monetary Fund and is currently affiliated with the secretive BDT Capital based in Chicago. He also works for the University of Chicago whose endowment fund operates like a hedge fund with a portion of its investments tied to gold. Yet, Raghuram Rajan opposes the ownership of gold by Indians who want to protect themselves from the impending economic downturn."

Read the full article here.

Making capitalism work

"What we are witnessing, globally as well as in India, is the end-game for fiat currencies (for the scholarly-oriented, the present conditions could be best summarised as the “Crack-Up Boom,” as defined by Ludwig von Mises, an economist from the liberal, laissez faire-oriented Austrian School of Economics.). From now on, all Keynesian stimulus policies would actually go on to worsen the imbalances rather than revive growth." More here.